The Grandview Heights and Bainbridge Paint Valley football teams seem like a mirror image as they head into their first-round Division VI, Region 24 playoff game.
The squads meet Friday, Nov. 8, at second-seeded Paint Valley in a game featuring teams that have played without their three-year starter at quarterback and their top running back in recent weeks. How the teams continue with their makeshift lineups will be the key to moving on to a regional semifinal Nov. 15 against third-seeded Frankfort Adena or sixth-seeded Mechanicsburg at a neutral site.
Seventh-seeded Grandview is 6-4 after losing to Ready 27-14 on Nov. 1. Senior Charlie James has taken over at quarterback for senior Kyle Casey, who has an injured right (throwing) elbow. Against the Silver Knights, the wide receiver-turned-quarterback was 11-for-15 passing for 98 yards with one touchdown and rushed for 125 yards on 18 carries with a 48-yard score.
The Bobcats also played without running back Darreion Davis, who injured an ankle in a 28-7 loss to Columbus Academy on Oct. 25. Davis might be back against the Bearcats after totaling 965 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 174 carries in the first nine contests.
"It's just part of the game," said Paint Valley coach Pete Hollon, whose team is 8-2. "Kids are at a premium. Kids get banged up and it's a next-man-up mentality."
Paint Valley's senior three-year starter at quarterback, Bryce Newland, has not played since suffering an ankle injury in a 21-14 win over Adena on Sept. 20. Senior running back Brayden Ison rushed for 1,014 yards before being lost to a season-ending knee injury in a 34-0 win over Chillicothe Zane Trace on Oct. 18.
"They lose key guys and all they do is keep scoring 40 points per game," Grandview coach Jason Peters said of Paint Valley, which is averaging 37.4 points per contest. "When you lose a starting quarterback and running back, you have to have quality backups, but it's the dudes up front that are getting it done.
"They had a lot of kids coming back on the offensive and defensive lines. They have made things happen and they change the line of scrimmage. We'll have to buckle up and be ready up front."
The teams met last season in a first-round playoff classic, which the Bearcats won 39-36.
"It's the same thing we saw last year, and they really kind of resemble us," Hollon said. "They are good in the trenches, being quick and ready to go. It will be a dogfight like last year."
James has completed 32 of 51 passes for 408 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. The primary receiving outlet has been senior Luke Lachey, an Iowa recruit who has caught 46 passes for 532 yards and seven touchdowns.
Senior defensive lineman Joey Bertani leads the team with 81 tackles. He also has six sacks and two forced fumbles.
"Lachey is a problem for everyone who goes up against them," Hollon said. "What I saw of the linebackers and the rest of the defense, they are physical and they get to the ball."
Freshman Cavan Cooper has taken over at quarterback for Paint Valley, going 18-for-31 for 288 yards and three touchdowns in the past two weeks. His top option has been senior Cruz McFadden with 28 receptions for 521 yards.
"We have to play smart football and be consistent," Peters said. "They are going to be physical and we have to weather that storm and we have to make the most of our opportunities when we need to make plays."